Yes, website traffic analysis is incredibly dull shit. But you know what gets me excited about delving into a bunch of web traffic stats? Seeing statistical anomalies or “outliers” that indicate a problem with the copywriting, web design, or any main website component! Why you ask? It’s simple: Every “anomaly” or outlier indicates that money is being left on the table. And the bigger the problem I find, the happier I become because fixing big problems leads to big gains in overall conversion rate.
So what kind of statistical anomalies am I looking for when conducting website traffic analysis? Here is a brief but very informative list of statistical issues that tend to indicate the presence of a conversion problem on a website:
Most Common Anomalies Detected by Website Traffic Analysis
- Low Average Time on Website
- High Abandonment Rate from Shopping Cart or Primary Sales Funnel
- Poor Visitor Distribution or Low Percentage of Visitors to Main Conversion Pages
- High Bounce Rate for Website and For Main Conversion Content
- High Percentage of Mobile Traffic on Non-Responsive Site
I know what you’re thinking: “So what the hell can I do with some stupid statistic telling me that I have a low average time on site or high abandonment rate?” I get it: Information by itself will not improve your conversion rate so how do you transform website traffic analysis into actions that lead to higher conversions and online profits?
Well, spotting the statistical anomaly is the first critical step to improving your conversion rate but before you can realize that goal: You have to first figure out what is causing the outlier. So let’s take a look again at those statistical anomalies and identify the most common causes behind each of them.
Low Average Time on Website
In and of itself, a low average time on site won’t help you zero-in on the source of your conversion problems. This is because a low average time on site could be caused by a large number of issues, including:
- Weak or Untargeted Traffic Sources
- Weak Transitions on Traffic Generating Content (like your blog)
- Poor Copywriting
- Bad Site Design/Layout
- Sloppy Sales Funnel Construction
- Slow Load Times/Bad Programming
Make no mistake: A low average time on site indicates the presence of one or more of these problems and they are stealing your conversions but you’ll need to do some digging to figure out which issues are specifically affecting your site.
High Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate
Once a visitor clicks on a CTA (buy now button), they should enter your shopping cart (depending on your sales funnel) and are much more likely to make a conversion. The abandonment rate equals the percentage of visitors who enter the shopping cart but don’t actually complete a purchase. Even the best sites have significant abandonment rates but if you have a shopping cart with 75% or more of people bailing before completing the conversion, you could have one or more of the following problems:
- Shopping Cart Configuration Problems (prices not displaying properly, shipping rates not calculating, etc.)
- Discrepancies in Pricing/Offer Throughout Your Sales Funnel
- Not Enough Payment Options
- No Credibility Tools at Point of Purchase (verisign logos, 128-bit encryption logos, BBB logo, etc)
Remember: Prospects that click on a CTA and take a step towards converting are far more likely to complete a transaction than cold traffic so you need to make sure there are no mistakes, discrepancies, or issues with your shopping cart and sales funnel to keep abandonment rates low. Website traffic analysis can help isolate the specific issues causing the high abandonment rate if you are using tools like Google Analytics or Optimizely that provide sufficient user data.
Poor Visitor Distribution on Website
You can have the best sales page in the world and you will never generate sales until you get visitors to that conversion-oriented content. But due to varied traffic sources, you can’t just directly channel all traffic to your primary sales page(s) which makes your sales funneling the difference between success and failure on most websites. Here are just a few of the primary issues that will screw up your visitor distribution and tank conversions on a site:
- Poor Home Page and/or Landing Page Design
- Bad/Confusing Site Navigation Scattering Prospects to the 4 Winds
- Weak Direct Response Copywriting Tools on Home/Landing Pages
- Missing or Weak Transitions on Traffic Generating Content
With a little testing and sufficient website traffic analysis, you can quickly isolate the specific problem and then implement a solution that could literally boost traffic to your primary sales page(s) by up to 100% or more. And while the correlation between percentage of visitors to your sales page and overall conversions on a site are not 100%, you will certainly generate more sales the more people you get to those primary sales/conversion pages.
Excessive Bounce Rates
Your bounce rate equals the percentage of visitors who only view one page of your site before leaving. If the website traffic analysis indicates that bounce rates exceed 50% or more, this can indicate a wide range of potential conversion issues, including:
- Poor Traffic Quality
- Misleading Adwords/Marketing Content
- Very Poor Website Design/Layout
- Confusing or Intimidating Website Navigation
- Use of Forced Opt-In Marketing Tactics
- Weak Copywriting Tools
- Pricing Way Out of Line with Competition
Look, even bona-fide conversion rate optimization experts can’t simply look at a high bounce rate and instantly know the cause. In most cases, there will be several causes of a low bounce rate and the conversion rate experts use website traffic analysis to isolate the exact causes and permanently fix them.
High Percentage of Mobile Traffic Using Smart Phones on Non-Responsive Site Design
A website requires special programming work to make it viewable on most mobile devices, especially smart phones. Otherwise, the site will not display or work properly and will be essentially useless to anyone trying to interact with it using mobile devices.
Unfortunately, a lot of sites have not been programmed to be “mobile responsive”. Now just a year or two ago, this wasn’t a big deal because your mobile traffic might only be 5-10%. But today and depending on your specific industry niche, mobile traffic might account for up to 50% or more of total visitors.
So a good rule of thumb is that if your website traffic analysis reveals that more than 20% of total traffic is from mobile, then the site needs to be made mobile responsive.
Concluding Thoughts on Website Traffic Analysis
Make no mistake: Any website traffic analysis is only as good as the person interpreting the data. Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of meaningless statistics with no real connection to reality or your website’s performance. In addition, not all website traffic analysis tools are created equal so the platform you use to monitor visitors will directly affect your ability to use that information to optimize the website for higher conversions.
Now frankly, there are literally hundreds of web traffic analysis tools out there to choose from and you simply don’t have time to test all of them out. In our experience and depending on your exact needs, these website traffic analysis tools provide actionable data that can be quickly used to optimize landing pages, product descriptions, and any conversion-oriented content:
- Google Analytics and Associated Tools
- Visual Website Optimizer
- Crazy Egg
Now tools like Google Analytics and Optimizely are great for gathering raw website traffic data and providing you with a detailed look at visitor behavior, demographics, etc. However, tools like Visual Website Optimizer, Crazy Egg, and Clicktale all also include heat mapping software.
The great thing about heat mapping tools is that they essentially translate the raw visitor engagement data into very intuitive and visual heat maps. Essentially, the areas of greatest interest and engagement will appear red or bright yellow while areas of low interest/engagement will appear as blue or green, like in the screenshot below.
Bottom line: Website traffic analysis is the key to generating maximum ROI for your website because it helps you isolate the problems that are suppressing online sales and sapping profits. Web traffic tools that include heat mapping software are great for optimizing primary conversion content like Home Pages, Sales Pages, and Product Descriptions. But for comprehensive website optimization, tools like Google Analytics are probably your best and most affordable option for conducting thorough and effective website traffic analysis.